Two struggling clubs arrive in Kelowna tonight and Saturday looking to cool off the UBCO Heat men’s soccer team and ignite their own campaigns.
The 4-1-1 Heat lead the Canada West Pacific Division thanks to the best start in program history. Up first tonight are the Alberta Golden Bears (1-2-1) for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Nonis field on the UBCO campus.
MacEwan (1-2-1) is here Saturday for another 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Admission is free.
After scoring just 13 goals in 16 games last season in conference play, the Okanagan’s team has already racked up 10 in their opening six contests.
The goal total is second in Canada West so far this season, trailing just the Mount Royal Cougars (15).
Defence the best offence
Third-year defender Sam McDonald has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season, as the center back has four goals in four games to open the campaign.
He was honoured as Canada West’s second star of the week on Tuesday. The Kelowna native scored both of UBCO’s goals in a 1-1 draw with UFV and a 1-0 win over Trinity Western last weekend.
This was the second straight Heat player to be honoured as a star of the week after Corbin Beauchemin was named the third star for the week of Sept. 3.
Griffin door open
Just four games into their season and the Griffins are (1-2-1), but with the meat of their schedule still ahead of them.
Both Stefan Gajic and Everett Orgnero have each found the net twice for the Griffins, or half of MacEwan's goals so far this season.
UBCO is 1-0-1 in head-to-head matchups with the Griffins.
These two teams have met only twice in Canada West competition, with the Heat capturing an exciting 3-2 victory last season in Kelowna following a game-winning header from Shaun Pilcher.
Goals not so golden
The Golden Bears have gotten off to a rocky start to the new campaign, especially in terms of finding the back of the net.
After finishing third in total goals last season with 31, the Bears have found the back of the net just three times in the opening four games of the season.
The main reason for this dip is the departure of Ajeej Sarkaria and Easton Ongaro, who scored 26 of these 31 goals last season.
Defender Noah Cunnighman remains one of the only pieces off of last year’s team that went undefeated in the regular season.
The fourth-year St. Albert native has been a Canada West All-Star in all three of his seasons with the Bears.
The only meeting between these two teams came in 2016 when the Bears won 3-1 at home.
Women need a win
It’s opening weekend for the Heat women with games against MacEwan and Alberta.
Both of those teams figure to play a part in the postseason as they were picked in the top-five of the preseason coach's poll.
UBCO (0-2) failed to score in two losses against Calgary Dinos and UNBC Timberwolves last week.
Game time for the women tonight and Saturday is 5:30 p.m.
UBCO midfielder Erica Lampert will look to lock down the middle of the park all season long as she will be one of the key pieces on this year’s team.
She’s joined by rookies Aspen Marsden and Yvonne Manwaring, who both got the start in the season-opener against the Dinos and are part of a strong incoming recruiting class.
UBCO recorded just eight shots on target during the opening two games against Calgary and UNBC, but gave up 22. Heat ’keepers Iona Lawson and Emma Terrillon were kept busy in both outings.
Alberta (1-0-1) is defending CanWest bronze medallists and hasn’t lost to UBCO in four lifetime matches.
The Griffins (1-0-1) finished last season 9-3-2 and lost in the CanWest quarterfinals.
The teams split last year’s matches with the Heat capturing the 1-0 victory at home before falling 4-1 in Edmonton.